Mists enveloped the travelers as they entered the dark Elder Forest, giving an almost ethereal glow to the land around them. Areas untouched by the mist remained in the dark, and the shadows of the trees seemed to stretch high above Mu, Sheila, and their jester. Images of alien creatures and monsters danced in the visions of each traveler as their minds wandered, trying to fill in the dark gaps around them.
Edging their way further and further into the woods, the trees seemed to close in on the group the more they walked, and the three stumbled over gnarled roots and twisted vines covering the cold ground. Along with the dark came an eerie muffled silence that chilled the group to their very cores. Although he was afraid, the group’s small jester trudged along with his larger companions through the undergrowth, scraping his legs and knees on painful barbed branches.
Mu lead the group, intently listening to their surroundings. Danger lurked in every shadow here, which was a fact the large warrior did not need much experience to know. After walking blindly through the dark for some time, he stopped his group, and held up a finger to his mouth to quiet the others’ questioning.
The three heard a breathy whisper originating from somewhere out in the darkness. The voice seemed to hiss its words, but neither Mu nor Sheila could pinpoint what it was saying. Silence followed the small bout of communication, and Sheila slowly drew her silvery short sword seemingly covered with blackened edges. Crouching closer to the ground, the tall woman began to inch forward, pushing her way rudely past Mu.
She motioned for the group to continue, albeit at a much slower, quieter pace, and as Mu and his jester followed their friend, the hissing sound started once again. Sheila had the most experience with undead creatures, and supposedly this forest was full of them. Mu was even a little relieved when she took the lead, even if it was by force. He did not have much experience fighting with warriors that he actually trusted, but Sheila seemed too well trained to ignore.
The trees were slightly more sparse in this area than the last, but the vine and root presence was just as prominent. The group’s jester stumbled on an outstretched root for a moment, and began to flail his arms in an attempt to center his balance. To no avail, the small man fell flat on his face, arms stretched outward, with a loud crack as he broke many of the vines and twigs in the underbrush.
He popped up quickly, patting dirt off of his brightly colored clothing, and hoped no one had noticed. But after looking around for a moment, his wondering was answered when he saw that his friends had not seen his ridiculous fall. In fact, they were no where to be seen at all. A sense of panic overtook the man, who had previously felt safe in the company of such fine warriors as the likes of Mu and Sheila, and the small man readied a shout to call out to his fellow adventurers. Letting out a magically high pitched squeak, the jester attempted to call the attention of his friends, but as glowing yellow eyes began to open one by one in the shadows all around him, he saw that he had drawn the wrong kind of attention.
High pitched squeaks cried out in rapid succession far behind Mu and Sheila, and for the first time, the two noticed they were missing their small friend. Mu spun around, scanning for any sort of movement in the mists around them; but while the mists had an ethereal glow of their own, only shadow filled the areas that the large warrior desperately tried to search. Acting on instinct, the warrior trained from birth drew his longsword and charged deep into the dark, plunging himself into overwhelming shadow without even a second thought.
“Wait! No!” Sheila cried as the last visible parts of Mu disappeared into the darkness. Blindly running off into the forest was never a good idea, but it seemed to be Sheila’s only choice in the current situation. She readied her sword, and slowly inched her way into the dark.